Tuesday, May 11 2021 - 2:05 PM
lady in pain holding back
Photo by Dreamstime

I’m Still Alive

I was on my way to Fort Worth from San Antonio where I had stayed with friends for a few days. Every day that I’d been gone my baby girl had asked my husband, “Where’s Mommy?” That morning on the phone, as I headed north, my husband told me she said, “Mommy!” as she looked at my photograph, held it, and kissed it.

I smiled as I drove and thought of her — her little voice, her smile, the way she feels, so soft and strong. In just a couple of hours, I would be home holding her. Or so I thought.

Still Alive

In an instant, a big red pickup darted into my lane. Traffic was going about 60 mph, and it appeared this truck was going to ram right into the front, right side of my car. So I jerked the steering wheel to the left to avoid the truck and was hit. My car spun on the pavement. All I could see was cream-colored dust and bits of glass flying everywhere. Then another hard hit, and my car was flipping around and around, airborne. That’s when I thought, “I’m in a BAD accident.” I realized this accident was so bad that I could die, so I prayed, “God! Please let me live, please let me live, please let me live!” I knew I had too much to live for—my baby girl, my husband, and some unknown future in which God had plans.

The car landed. I was sitting upright, still gripping the steering wheel when I realized I was alive and that angels had set my car safely on its wheels on the shoulder of the busy highway. The fact I was still alive was a miracle.

Help Comes

Then I felt the pain—harsh and excruciating. That’s when people ran up to my car. One lady opened my door, and the questions flew from different people: “Are you okay, Ma’am?…Is there anyone I can call for you?…Do you have your phone?…Is the car on fire? I asked, “Where am I?” A kind, older lady with a thick Texas accent kneeling next to me said, “You’re in Waco, honey. I’ve already called the ambulance; they’re on their way,” she said.

“Oh, it hurts!” I cried. “What hurts?” the older lady asked. “My back, oh my back hurts! Can you support it?” I asked. I felt like I could barely hold my back up and needed to move to ease the pain. “Don’t move!” she said. “The ambulance is coming.”

An officer arrived and questioned me; then the paramedics arrived. They asked if I could move my legs; I could. They asked if I could move my arms; I could. “Where does it hurt?” they asked. “My lower back!” I cried. They went to get the stretcher, and as I waited, for the first time I noticed all the people standing around, watching. That’s when I let go and cried—I cried for the fear, the shock, the pain. I knew I could have died and the car could have ended up on its hood or side and I would’ve been crushed. I knew God answered my prayer and let me live and that it wasn’t my time—God wasn’t finished with me yet.

The Ride to the ER

But mostly I cried because I never thought this would happen. I cried whenever I thought of my family—my in-laws whose car I had wrecked, my husband and the grief he’d have to go through because of all this, and my baby girl. She shouldn’t have to see her to see her mother in such a bad condition, or worse, see me not being able to walk around, lift and care for her like I used to. I couldn’t even let that thought run. I just cried and cried.

My back hurt worse when they put me on the stretcher. “How far is the hospital?” I asked. I didn’t know if I could go for long riding with this pain. “Just two miles from where you wrecked,” the medic said. Still, the trip to the hospital seemed like forever, so I thought positive thoughts. I was thankful I survived and was conscious. I was thankful the medics got to me so quickly. And I was thankful for the people who stopped to help me, including the lady who had called the ambulance and was now riding in the cab to attend to me at the hospital. I tried to think of anything to avoid the pain or thoughts of my family because when I thought of them I burst into sobs.

Exams

They wheeled me into the ER. The doctor did an exam. “Does this hurt? Does this hurt?” and so on. I told him all that hurt was my middle and lower back. I lay on my bed afraid to move because I didn’t want to mess with my spine. They did some X-rays and a CAT scan. The doctor said he would know the diagnosis within the day. I was scared and lonely as I waited alone to hear it.

A Friendly Visitor

I thought it was my dad or husband about to enter the room, but to my surprise, it was the lady who had called the ambulance and was with me at the accident scene. “How are you doing, darling?” she asked. I smiled so big, happy to know someone cared and was there with me—even if she was a stranger. I thanked her for all her help and for being there. “Well, I have two daughters in their 20s, and I know if they were in an accident like this, they might not have anyone to help them, so I wanted to be here for you and help you. I know it must be scary being by yourself.”

As we talked, I recalled how people are put into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime. Stephanie was for a reason—she was there to help me through this. If she hadn’t called the ambulance immediately, who knows what could have happened considering that my car had set fire. I didn’t know my car was on fire; I wonder if I would have sat there too long. Or rather, I wonder how long I would have just sat in pain. She was also there to bring me comfort at a time when I was so scared, frustrated, and lonely. My family couldn’t be there, but she was.

Diagnosis

The doctor entered and said he had good news. “You have a small fracture, just 10%, in lumbar 1. That means we can let you go tonight. It’s amazing that with that kind of accident, that was all that happened.” He told me it would heal on its own; that I could walk and do things normally but to take it easy—not do anything too active.

My dad and husband arrived, bringing comfort and relief. Shortly after, we were on the long drive to my cousin’s (and then home) to pick up my baby girl, who was sleeping soundly when we arrived. I couldn’t lift her, but I held her and kissed her.

I was delayed, but I had made it and was alive to hold my baby girl. There is no feeling in the world like that.

A Miracle

Stephanie had seen it all; she is my witness. She said my car hit a car, spun, hit another car, then flipped over three times and landed. It’s been a year since the accident, and although my fracture has healed, x-rays have revealed two compressed vertebrae. The chiropractor said that with the kind of car accident I had, and with that kind of a compression fracture, I could have been paralyzed from the waist down. Not only did God spare my life, but He also spared my legs. I am a walking miracle. He answered my plea to live, and I’m alive to say that He is not finished with me yet. 

If you liked this, you may also enjoy An Unforgettable Day | Survivor Stories.

Vanessa Pham writes from the Southwest.

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About Vanessa Pham

Vanessa Pham

is a wordsmith and writer from the Southwest.

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